Today Fri Sat
It is forecast to be Chance of Rain at 11:00 PM EDT on July 31, 2014
Chance of Rain
24°/17°
It is forecast to be Clear at 11:00 PM EDT on August 01, 2014
Clear
25°/18°
It is forecast to be Partly Cloudy at 11:00 PM EDT on August 02, 2014
Partly Cloudy
25°/17°

5 Comments

culture

Beguiling the Children

Comics shop The Beguiling has opened an offshoot, called Little Island Comics, just for kids.

The storefront of new comics shop Little Island; the store's logo was designed by Steve Manale.


In the Annex, past Honest Ed’s and just down Bathurst street, there’s a little island. An island where books spur imagination and parents are welcome to learn right alongside their kids.

Little Island Comics is a bookstore with the unique distinction of being one of the only comic shops in the world that’s completely aimed at children. It’s an offshoot of The Beguiling, its sister shop, which resides on the other side of Honest Ed’s, on Markham Street.

Taken together, the two locations almost form a loose comics neighbourhood in the Annex, where young readers can start at Little Island and then “graduate” to the Beguiling. While the Beguiling features comics, art compilations, and the occasional shelf of erotica, Little Island is aimed at something a little lighter.

Stepping into the store, you can see it was designed with children in mind: the shelves are low to the ground and painted in bright, inviting colours. Inside, a mother converses with a clerk as they try to figure out what would be appropriate for her young son, Julian. While Julian flips through a book with large pictures, the clerk suggests something that he could possibly grow into as time goes on.

Little Island stocks titles for children who are just starting to read as well as comics that are geared towards the more advanced fan. They also have a large stock of continuity-free, family-friendly books with characters like Spider-Man and the Avengers, as well as a collection of translated Japanese manga.

“What I hear from librarians is that the thing that circulates most is manga. I think there’s a bunch of reasons for that,” Andrew Woodrow Butcher told us. As general manager of Little Island, he has been overseeing the store’s soft launch—which took place yesterday—in preparation for something with a little more fanfare down the road. While shelves are stocked, there’s still an area under construction (behind a curtain at the back of the shop) where the staff hope to host author visits, children’s workshops and other lively events.

“This space landed in our lap and had a retail storefront, and because we spend a lot of time selling to school libraries, we had a team of people who are specialized in comics for young people. We had a team in place, we had an inventory in place, and it just kind of came together,” he says happily. “We have deep, specific expertise; something that you might not find in a general bookstore with a children’s area,” Butcher said. “Not all comic stores are meant to be kid-specific environments.”

Little Island Comics can be found at 742 Bathurst Street. The store is open 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 12–6 p.m. on Sundays. They can be reached at mail@littleislandcomics.com or by phone at 416-901-7589.

Photos by Matt Demers.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    Uh, what stopped the kids and their parents from going to Silver Snail or any other of the comic book shops in Toronto? For that matter, what stopped kids of previous generations (like myself) from going to independent comic book shops like the Snail and just buying comic books, or ordinary newsstands? This sounds more like a lifeline for lazy parents and their even lazier kids who don’t know how to use public transit or are still tied to Mommy & Daddy.

    • Anonymous

      Well, first, comics at news stands are a lot less common than they used to be. Secondly, the mainstream comics from Marvel and DC aren’t aimed at kids any more; the target audience is males aged 16-30, and the market they’re aiming for is the Local Comic Shop.

      So having a store with comics that *are* aimed at kids isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Whether it actually works remains to be seen, but I can see why they’re doing it.

    • Raven

      Walk in to most comic shops today, and you’re surrounded by figurines of big-busty woman in skimpy outfits and monsters and aliens and the like. If you want to get your 7-12 year old kid into comics so that they’ll READ, this isn’t the greatest place to start. It’s also good to be able to shop with kids and not have to explain or answer questions for everything they might see.

      The idea is to make a kid-friendly environment, so perhaps those more comic-phobic parents can feel more comfortable taking their kids there, and don’t have to be surrounded by the “usual comic book store patrons” as curgoth mentions below.

      Personally, I’m in favour of this branch-off. The Beguiling has sold many books to local schools over the years, and while I’m in awe of that, it always seemed a bit of a contrast to some of the other stuff you may find in their store.

      BTW, I’m not sure when you started going out on your own, but I would say most parents don’t let kids younger than 12-13 take TTC by themselves on their own… I’ve seen readers of Bone as young as 9-10.

    • AMC

      Don’t be such a douche nevilleross. Plus honestly, the Silver Snail fucking sucks, they sell more toys than books.

      • Anonymous

        But kids love toys, so they would probably buy both (e.g., an issue of Superman and an action figure.) Again, what happened to asking the owner of a store for a pullbox so that one can get the titles they want for their kids, and doing some research in the Internet beforehand as to what comic books for kids are out there? I presume that the parents have the internet, so that shouldn’t be that hard, actually.

        FYI, here’s some links to the kids’s books from a few publishers:

        DC Kids (http://dckids.kidswb.com/)

        Marvel Kids: (http://marvelkids.marvel.com/)

        Ape Entertainment (publisher of a new Richie Rich comic book, along with a Kung Fu Panda title and other titles licensed from Dream Works)- http://ape-entertainment.com/comics/licensed-properties/richie-rich/

        Archie Comics (http://www.archiecomics.com/)

        Checking out those sites and then just getting off of the butt and going to a comic book store should not be a hard thing to do, and doesn’t require a special kids’s store. The only thing this shows (and I’d never thought I’d ever hear myself saying this) is that today’s kids have grown soft and lazy.